Friday, August 14, 2009

“Disposing of dead people is a public service, whereas you’re in all sorts of trouble if you kill someone while they’re still alive.”

I realize that I've haven't posted anything in a long time. I wish I could say I'm sorry about that, but I'm not. Sure I've read books, seen movies, and heard music worth telling other people about, but you know what? I didn't feel like writing anything, so I didn't. And I feel A-OK about that.

But. But. BUT. I just watched movie that I need to tell anyone and everyone about. I can't not spread the word about Cemetery Man (aka Dellamorte Dellamore), and all of its insane, batshit, hilarious glory.

What is Cemetery Man, you ask? Well, it's a movie that is something of a combination of horror, comedy, romance, erotica, drama, and giallo all wrapped up in some fever dream Freudian nightmare. Just about the only thing not in this movie was incest, which is really only noteworthy because I'm pretty sure this it's at least partially French.

Rupert Everett plays Francesco Dellamorte, the caretaker of a small town cemetery. He lives in a dilapidated house in the cemetery, along with his assistant Gnaghi (an absolutely amazing François Hadji-Lazaro), a bloated, dim-witted man-child who only communicates through a series of grunts. As is explained in the opening, people who are buried in the cemetery tend to rise from the grave within a week of being buried, making part of Dellamorte's job to matter-of-factly brandish an antique revolver in order to shoot any undead in the face at a moment's notice (or, as the case may be, whack them in the face with a sharpened spade).

Beyond that set-up, it's hard to figure out what else to recap of the plot, since the movie has a tendency to take bizarre turns frequently and at regular intervals. There's some stuff about impotence, impending nuptials involving the decapitated head of a teenage girl, a Death Incarnate-urged murderous rampage, and Buñuel-esque love story revolving around a woman who keeps reappearing despite Dellamorte repeatedly killing her. And violence. Oh the violence. The movie appears to be fairly low budget, but it is filled to the brim with graphic and gratuitous practical special effects (including exploding heads, lots of flesh-eating, and at least one scene of Dellamorte smashing a zombie nun's face into a bloody pulp).

I wish I could present something of a coherent explanation of what Cemetery Man is like, or even what it's about, but given its tendency to spin off into wild, unpredictable territory, I feel like it's nigh-impossible to do that. One thing to note, though, is that the movie never comes across like it is cobbled together from multiple narratives. Despite its crazy narrative, it does come across as basically linear. The movie moves from point A to point B to point C and so on perfectly smoothly, it just happens that points A, B, and C are vastly different from one another. But the movie never seems jumbled or mashed together.

At least part of the reason I loved this movie as much as I did was its huge stylistic debt to the giallo movies of the 1970s. I intend to write up a post entirely devoted to giallo at some point (we'll see if that ever happens), but basically giallo movies are horror or suspense films made in Italy primarily in the 1970s known for their overly stylized look, garish colors, intense musical scores, elaborate and gruesome set pieces, and their tendency to eschew logical narrative in favor of a typically surreal atmosphere. Cemetery Man more or less follows that template. Intense, almost suffocating visuals. A bizarre, dream-like narrative. Gruesome and stylized violence. And just all around amazing.

[After babbling about how great Cemetery Man is after watching it, my opinion was confirmed by my friends Conor, who said, "Yeah - that movie is fucking terrific, even if it's more than a little totally inexplicable. You're right - it's like they jammed together a horror movie, a love story, a Bruce Campbell style B-grade movie, and some strange Euro art film all into one movie. It's awesome," and Brencho who said, in part, "I love Cemetery Man…ahh, fuck…gross…"]

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

fucking awesome.
also, word of the day:
eschew (v). to abstain or keep away from; shun; avoid.
askew (adv). to one side; out of line; in a crooked position; awry.
</grammarnazi>

Scott said...

Ah! You're right. Stupid (near) homophones.

It has been corrected. Here's hoping no one notices.

Brad said...

aaaand, it's in my Netlix queue.

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